As promised/threatened, I've decided to share some of the writing I've done for my classes so far, so that you'll remember how good it is and buy my book when it comes out. So you can skip ahead to that part if you don't want to read my brief continuation of the commentary from last week. It's the part that begins "Now on to the writing portion of our program!" That's technically a silly thing to say since this whole post is written, but I can live with that.
One of these days, at one of its activities, the institute should hold dance lessons. I say this because most of the students, including and especially myself, know how to do little more than jump up and down, occasionally making funny hand signals or forming a train. This is particularly embarrassing since I took dance classes for a couple years in high school. At a minimum know entire routines for "Single Ladies", "Bust a Move", the Black Eyed Peas' version of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life". But I've completely forgotten them, just as I've completely forgotten even the names of the other songs that I should know routines for. But really, this isn't just about me. Almost everyone would benefit from lessons and the quality of the dance portion of the activities would improve.
Perhaps you are asking now, "Christopher, why don't you just bring suggestions like this up at the LDSSA meetings instead of musing about them here on a blog that nobody (except me) reads?" If so, you clearly have me mistaken for someone who actually contributes things. But maybe I will. Thanks for the idea.
On a more academic note, I'm taking their "Foundations of the Restoration", which is one of the new required classes. It's not required for me since I started institute four years ago, but I wanted to take it anyway. This class makes a point of incorporating the Church's recent essays on controversial historical and doctrinal issues, thus sort of explaining why they were initially released without a lot of fanfare and just kind of sat there on the website without any particular attachment to anything. Finally, I think we get to see what Elder Marlin K. Jensen had in mind when he mentioned upcoming changes to the curriculum, saying, "If they are not revolutionary, they are at least going to be a breath of fresh air across the church." And indeed, how fresh it is! Smells like apricots.
I am very pleased about this, but slightly less so with the approach I've seen being taken, similar to the one I've seen taken in other classes where controversial things have been brought up (sometimes as part of the curriculum but more often, I think, on the teachers' own initiative to "inoculate" us against them). The approach tends to be, "This is what anti-Mormons say, and this is why they're wrong." First, I don't like using the term "anti-Mormon" as a noun because, even if technically accurate, it sounds like an ad hominem attack designed to shut down discussion, and also sounds like we have a persecution complex. I sometimes use it as an adjective to describe a particular book or "ministry" or whatever, but I stopped using it as a noun years ago. Just call them "critics".
Second, I don't see the need to bring up what they say at all. If we just present the same facts in our own context and our own paradigm, then it speaks for itself and no refutation is necessary. For example, claims that the multiple First Vision accounts are contradictory will have little if any effect on someone who has already studied them all without concern. Of course, this kind of approach is probably inevitable after letting the critics (notice I didn't call them "anti-Mormons") tell more of our story more loudly for so long. Hopefully it will go away after a few years when things settle down, and we won't feel the need to be defensive, and there won't be any "controversial history" - just history.
Now on to the writing portion of our program!
As previously mentioned, in my poetry writing class we talked all about the importance of vulnerability and then we had to make copies of our poems for our group members to critique, which I don't mind at all. We're also supposed to read our poems out loud, which I mind slightly less than bathing in sulfuric acid. Anyway, this inspired me. Professor's evaluation:
I exaggerated the cynicism for poetic effect (I don't really think "Then screw it" about love - well, not always, at least) and thought that people would find it a bit excessive and whiny. Instead, they said they identified with it completely, and were particularly pleased with my mockery of confidence-building cliches. Everyone agreed that "Just be yourself and people will like you", in particular, is nothing more or less than a huge barefaced lie. I guess the hope is that by the time children realize it's a lie, they won't care whether people like them anymore. Why we don't just teach them not to care in the first place, and save a lot of hassle, is beyond me. I suspect that we just want to believe life is fair on some level, regardless of how much we claim to know better.
As a token of goodwill I wrote "A+" at the top of my fellow group members' poems. I then spent about half an hour debating whether to add "See me after class" to one of them. Would she find it funny, or take it completely the wrong way and report me for harassment? She was really nice, and liked my blog, but we had only known each other for a few days and maybe she didn't entirely trust me yet. In the end I settled for writing it and then crossing it out and adding "That sounded less creepy in my head". This is the world we live in.
This one had to be redacted slightly for public consumption. I apologize for the inconvenience. The annotations should clarify it a bit. Fellow student's evaluation:
So, I totally thought that one was only being shared with the professor. Had I paid more attention and realized that it was also being shared with the group, I would have chosen another topic entirely. I couldn't bear to read it out loud so the other guy did it and I just sat there and pantomimed holding a gun to my head. Once again, I thought it was overblown and neurotic. But once again, people identified with it. Other feedback included "I think we've all felt this way so I found it really relatable" and "This is the kind of ---- that goes through my head everyday." Apparently this major, or at least this class, is a freak magnet. I mean that in the nicest way possible.
For my fiction writing class taught by the same professor, among other things, we each picked a weird picture from a pile of weird pictures and had about ten minutes to create a story or part of a story from it, incorporating some sensory details. This was my picture - well, actually, mine was in black and white, which made it even more intimidating. I decided today that her name is Elizabeth Sommers because she looks like an Elizabeth Sommers.
It's probably from a shampoo advertisement or something, but I like to think my idea was better. What follows is not the original scrawl from my notebook but the superior slightly expanded version that I did later.
No one has made eye contact with me in years. Always they look away, and try to move as far away as possible, as discreetly as possible. If they must speak with me, they are unable to conceal their fear, as the tremors wrack their whole bodies and come out in their voices. It’s always “Y-y-yes C-C-Captain” this and “E-e-excuse m-me C-C-Captain” that.
As I make my rounds through the sterile halls of the ship, my ears are assaulted by the deafening silence of space, unmarred by human speech or laughter. At times, when I really focus, I can make out the soft steady thrum of the engines, but I don’t focus very often. I like silence. It allows me to meditate. Of course, I do not enforce this silence on everyone else, but they are more than willing to oblige me.
My crew members behave as they do because they fear me. I would rather they respected me. But the simple reality is that I must take what I can get, as long as it works.
A man challenged my authority once. His breath reeked of Antarean Kidney Twisters, probably the only drink in existence potent enough to suppress the fear of me. He claimed that I was unfit to be Captain; that he would do a better job. His hands now adorn my helmet, atop the rest of them, as a reminder to the others of why drinking is unhealthy.
Hands. I feel them; some soft as baby powder, others calloused as a rugged cliff face, all pressing down against my scalp. Each pair – I never take only one – tells a story. Most of them are not from my own crew members. Most of them are from the scum of the galaxy – the pimps, the pirates, the politicians, and so on. We come across them in our travels quite frequently. I confess that, given the vastness and emptiness of space, I often must make a considerable effort to come across them.
And then I make examples of them.
She isn't LDS, but she knows a thing or two about the laying on of hands. You gotta hand it to her, she takes a very hands-on approach to captaining. This helmet wasn't a hand-me-down and she didn't just buy it at a secondhand shop. She made it herself, and it wasn't easy; she had to grease a few palms. At least she got a five finger discount on the actual parts. Actually, her initial plan was to install explosives and make hand grenades, but she decided they were too hard to handle and that she should just stick with missile toes. Contrary to rumor, however, she never experimented with finger food. You can't tell, but she has a lot of hair tucked up under that helmet; her hands are full. I feel that notwithstanding her obvious femininity, it makes her look very handsome. And not only is it attractive, but it also comes in handy. It protects her skull during hand-to-hand combat. Just by looking at it, the crew members become obedient and well-behaved and try to keep their hands to themselves. Admittedly, they do sometimes call her "Hand Solo" behind her back, but they know better than to bite the hands that feed them. They know she isn't as cruel as she looks and is always willing to lend a hand. Sometimes she has to remind them that she can't do everything at once because she only has sixteen hands. But the point is, she's not afraid to get her hands dirty. In fact, sometimes at parties, amid cries of "Shake those hands!", she takes it off and throws her hands in the air like she just doesn't care. You should see her doing the Hokey Pokey.
You know, I might actually expand this into a whole story. I like it. I think I'll have her descend deeper into whatever mania she has and end up making a whole jumpsuit out of hands. But don't worry; this takes place in the future where prosthetics are a dime a dozen, like in Star Wars, so losing one's hands is only a temporary inconvenience. I don't know the entire plot yet, but the title will be "All Hands on Deck".
Hello. I am Captain Elizabeth Sommers. This blog post, like a precocious child, was amusing at first but quickly grew tiresome. So it is that I have cut off the author's hands to prevent him from writing any more. No need to write and thank me; I can hear your applause from here. He can't think of any more stupid hand puns anyway. He's stumped.
"Mormons love to laugh at themselves; they just hate it when anyone else does." - (I'm pretty sure Pat Bagley wrote this, but I've been unable to find the spot where I thought it was written, so perhaps not. You can just attribute it to me if you want.)
Last week I talked a little bit about people mocking or bashing on my faith. After publishing, I realized that I should have mentioned that sometimes I find it really funny when people make fun of Mormons. Contrary to what some might assume, the "Book of Mormon" Broadway play is not one of those times, mainly because for some strange reason I don't find it amusing to joke about raping babies. I know, I know, I'm so weird. But this, for instance, I find hilarious, whether I should or not (warning: teensy bit of NSFW language).
Door to Door Atheists Bother Mormons
Making fun of Mormon culture, though hardly original, is one of my favorite pastimes. I think most Mormons enjoy making fun of their own culture, as movies like "The Singles Ward" can attest. (Though when I finally saw that movie, it was a great relief that I didn't feel "Wow, this is so familiar" nearly so much as "Wow, Provo Mormons are freaks." Utah Mormons think Provo Mormons are weird, American Mormons think Utah Mormons are weird, and other Americans just think Mormons are weird. Everyone's a hypocrite.) Just criticizing it outright with no attempt at humor, half-hoping that it will change and half-hoping that it won't change so that I can continue criticizing it, is one of my favorite pastimes too. I feel like being autistic makes me uniquely qualified to comment on the absurdities of culture (American culture, Mormon culture, dating culture, American Mormon dating culture, etc.). I don't know if it actually does, but I feel like it does, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
In this particular case which I'm about to bring up, though, I'm not criticizing; just musing. I love institute activities and, as part of the LDSSA service committee, help to set them up. But I don't really understand why the dances, at least around here, only have like four water breaks (aka slow songs) in three hours. I would've thought they'd be trying to make us fall in love and get married. Granted, maybe they just figured out (and of course this is a general problem not specific to their venue) that dances aren't the best way to go about that anyway. I hardly ever dance with strangers because it's not a good way to meet people. Three minutes is hardly long enough to get to know someone beyond a mind-numbingly superficial level, particularly when you have to say everything twice to be heard over the music.
At the last dance, I must have been out of the room when they played the "Cha-Cha Slide". That must have been it, because I know there's a secret directive somewhere that the "Cha-Cha Slide" has to be played at least once at every Mormon dance ever, at least in the U.S. and Canada.
From: The Office of the First Presidency
To: Strengthening Church Members Committee
Re: Cha-Cha Slide
Having reviewed the song in question, we agree that your concern about the swear word contained therein is a valid one. Nonetheless, we feel that, while regrettable, this is outweighed by the song's unmatched potential for reinforcing attitudes of conformity and obedience. Please ensure that it is played at least once at every church-sponsored dance ever, at least in the United States and Canada.
Also, Elder [Redacted] wishes to add, in an unofficial capacity, that "this funky beat makes me feel sixty-four again".
I wish I could change some of the words and see if anybody noticed. "Right foot let's stomp! Left foot let's stomp! Freeze! Everybody punch your neighbor in the face!" And then we would all learn a valuable lesson about which voices we choose to follow.
Actually, most of the songs are the same each time. They should let me choose the music one of these times. People might not like it but at least their horizons would be broadened. My first step would be to replace songs with their "Weird Al" Yankovic parodies whenever possible (e.g. "I Want It That Way" = "eBay" and "Party in the USA" = "Party in the CIA"). Then I would throw in a bunch of eclectic stuff, including but not limited to early 1960s sci-fi novelty tunes like this one.
Ran Dells - The Martian Hop
Now on to a more serious note. I saw this in my news feed (which, in case you hadn't figured it out yet, is where my social life takes place): "I'm pretty sure if we could get churches to start paying taxes, religion would disappear in the next couple of generations." Twenty-three people liked it.
I was far less concerned about the implicit threat than the fact that twenty-four people are so ignorant and foolish. Regardless of one's personal feelings on religion, this statement is absurd for at least two reasons. First of all, the last time I checked, religion was not confined to within the United States. In fact, the last time I checked, the United States had an extremely small percentage of the world's population. Admittedly, things might have changed since then. (That was sarcasm.) Second, people have willingly died for their beliefs for thousands of years. Christians directly after Christ's time were routinely stoned, crucified, and fed to lions, and in some parts of the world today they are still beheaded and blown up. People of other faiths have been persecuted too but I'm not as familiar with that history. Yet if their churches have to pay taxes, suddenly they'll give up? That makes no freaking sense.
The phrase "separation of church and state" is found nowhere in the Constitution, but comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson. And in the context of that letter, he was clearly referring to a protection of the church from the state, not vice-versa. Yet today people only cite this phrase when attempting to explain to religious people that the mandates of the state trump their personal convictions, and ignore it altogether when asserting that churches should be taxed. Of course, the state does need to be protected from the church too, but we've already taken care of that with a nifty little thing called the Bill of Rights, which explicitly goes both ways (but, incidentally, says nothing about freedom of religion being limited to privately held beliefs).
An unexpected perk of Windows 10:
With that being the case, actually, I should post the Talk Like a Pirate Day song. I hesitate because I've already shared one song and a total of two YouTube videos in this post, and most people probably don't have the time or inclination to watch all three, but if I don't post it now I'll have to wait an entire year. So consider it a bonus. You're welcome.
Tom Smith - Talk Like a Pirate Day
This post has gone on too long for me to also share some writing samples from my classes, but if you're really good, maybe I'll do that next week.
Not by design so much as happenstance, my posts often randomly jump between topics. This time I've tried to unify them under the same underlying theme, and I'm not sure that it entirely worked, but I suppose it's better than nothing. Before writing what I was initially planning to write, I should like to shamelessly brag by prefacing my remarks with a glowing endorsement of this blog, which in turn shall be prefaced with a little backstory of how it came to be.
As I mentioned, in a couple of my classes we're divided into little groups. The people right next to me decided we should just be in a group together and save ourselves the hassle of picking one out. I was totally okay with that because two of them are pretty girls. The other one isn't pretty, because he's a guy, but I don't hold that against him. Anyway, we were going around introducing ourselves and the girl who started mentioned that she likes to write autobiographical stuff, so I asked if she had a blog. She said no, and then the other girl interjected to say, "Blog writing seems kind of narcissistic to me. It's just like, 'Look at me. I'm awesome.'" I ignored her because I don't need that kind of negativity in my life. But then the first girl said, to me, "Do you have a blog?"
I said, "Ummm..."
She asked, "Can I read it?"
I said, "Ummm..."
This is the endorsement she gave afterward: "I loved your blog! I didn't read through all of the entries yet, but I loved it. Your humor... and your writing style is so unique." And then class started, and we had a visiting poet from Salt Lake but I had a hard time paying attention because I was busy bubbling over with warm fuzzy feelings. She's an actual writing type person, too, so this is an expert analysis and if you disagree with it you are clearly ignorant and uneducated, mmkay?
I'm glad to have a unique writing style. Writing styles, I think, are like accents; you don't think you have one. Only other people have them. Once upon a time I tried to shamelessly emulate Douglas Adams' wonderful writing style, but that just created incoherent messes, because the only person who can successfully pull off Douglas Adams' writing style is Douglas Adams, and actually not even him because he's dead. Then I tried to emulate Campbell Black a little bit after reading his marvelous novelization of "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Now I just do my own thing and apparently that works. Remember, she's an expert.
Isn't it wonderful how a person can have such a positive impact on another person with small little acts and words? With less than thirty seconds of speaking, this girl made my whole day perfect. Like, I was so happy that if I had come home to find that my house had burned down, I wouldn't have even cared. Every other good thing that happened that day was just a bonus.
For as long as I can remember I've read the scriptures right before bed, but recently I decided to try doing it in the mornings instead and see how that goes. I don't have classes until 10:30 at the earliest so I have plenty of time to walk to the temple and read on the grounds for a while. On the days when classes don't start until noon, I go to work right afterward. So a few days ago I was walking to work with a Book of Mormon in hand, and was just a couple blocks away when someone out in his front yard pointed to it and said, "What's that?"
He seemed kind of odd and had cuts all over one side of his face, as if he had been attacked by a dog. I couldn't believe he was asking about it, but I showed him and told him what it was. He asked me about it and then he asked about Mormons. Was this happening? I thought. Had I really found someone in Utah, besides the foreign college students, who didn't know about the Book of Mormon? I was about to offer it to him. It was one of those cheap missionary copies that I have like five of. (Douglas Adams' writing style included run-on sentences; mine includes ending sentences with prepositions.)
But no, he actually just wanted to tell me that I was believing in a false gospel and that I needed to throw the book away and turn my life over to Jesus Christ and be saved. I might have mentioned that Jesus Christ is mentioned, on average, every 1.7 verses in the Book of Mormon, but then he would have just countered that it was a "different Jesus". Actually, there were a lot of things I could have said, but I knew it would be pointless because he wasn't interested in a real discussion, so I just kept smiling and nodding. He asked about my sins, and I told him because whatever, and he asked if he could pray with me, and then he put one hand on my shoulder and another on my chest and started loudly casting my demons out. Then he started talking in what he called "tongues" but which I'm pretty sure was Latin. "I don't know what it meant, but it was all good," he said.
I guess with all the smiling and nodding, he thought that he had persuaded me, so he told me about how I had a big responsibility and a big commission now. If I continued in Mormonism, I would be damning not just myself, but thousands of people around me. I smiled, nodded, and left. I pondered the strange encounter as I was pulling weeds at work. If I ever did decide to change religions, evangelical Christianity is actually just about the last one I would consider. But all good and sincere people are subject to some degree of inspiration, and a role in God's work, and so I felt that it was meaningful in some way. I felt that maybe it was even an answer to my prayer of the previous night, which centered around Alma 26:22;
"Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance."
I want to know the mysteries of God and I want to bring thousands of souls to repentance. I take the "thousands" part quite literally. There are seven billion people in the world, and via such means as the Internet I (or anyone) can reach a pretty sizable chunk of them. If/when I become a famous bestseller, I can reach even more. But it isn't easy, and so far it has usually felt like I'm broadcasting out to an empty room and having no effect on anyone. That's why it's great to see that occasionally I have impacted people. Let me be clear; when I shared the endorsement of my blog, I was bragging. In sharing the following messages, I am not bragging. I am, in fact rather humbled. But both things (though not entirely analogous, which is why I'm not sure how well the unifying theme thing worked) should hopefully illustrate the point that anyone's small acts and words can have positive impacts on people's lives.
That made me so happy. I like it when non-Mormons stick up for my religion. I think that, in general, when your own religion is insulted you should just shrug it off, but when other religions are insulted you should stick up for them. When I read someone call Mormonism a "cult" I just roll my mental eyes and form a low opinion of their intelligence. But when I read someone bashing on Jews or Muslims, I give them a piece of my mind. (Of course, if someone is spreading falsehoods or misconceptions about my faith rather than just mocking it I sometimes try to set the record straight, but in most cases it's obvious that they, like the guy I ran into, have already made up their minds.)
So anyway, I would have probably just ignored those people hating on my religion, but I appreciated her, as a non-member, sticking up for it; so much so that I was moved to tears a little bit. That's a big deal for me. I don't show a lot of emotion because then I become vulnerable and people will hurt me.
Indians don't have nearly so much of a taboo on discussing religion as many Westerners, so this guy had been full of questions, and I had been happy to answer. At the very beginning he didn't even get Joseph Smith's name right and unnecessarily apologized for that. It was fun to talk to someone from a different cultural background; to a Christian, one would compare Joseph Smith to the prophets of the Bible, but since he was actually more familiar with Islam I compared him to Muhammad instead. (Some of the other Indians asked me questions too. The weirdest one was, "Why do you believe that Jews are children of the devil?) That was about four years before he sent me this message. In the interim, he moved somewhere else and I had no idea that any of it still stuck with him or resonated with him.
Neither of these friends have joined the LDS Church, and while I would be lying if I said I don't hope they will someday, the fact that they haven't actually illustrates the point better. Being a positive influence, and even sharing the gospel itself, is not contingent on whether people accept it or not. I'm just glad and humbled to have made some difference. And there is really nothing spectacular or incredible that enabled me to do so, and therefore no reason why anyone else shouldn't be able to do the same. Now I feel like I should keep going on about this point to wrap things up to a conclusion, but that would be insulting to your intelligence, wouldn't it? You get the idea already.
Oh, but also, when someone touches your life for good, you should let them know so they can feel good too and be encouraged to keep doing stuff like that. I might tell that girl in my class how much I appreciated her compliment, but I might not need to, because she might read it here first.
Having already grown accustomed to a place and culture where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is barely a footnote, on the plane back to Utah I was surprised to hear someone utter the phrase "Mormon heaven". I wasn't sure of the context because there were many conversations going on and that was all I heard. But the next thing I heard him say was, "It's just like any other cult."
I don't know if it's a new policy or I just haven't flown with this airline before, but the folks at Southwest try really hard to be funny. First there was the TSA guy checking our IDs. He informed the guy ahead of me that the governor of his state had blacklisted him and that he was only allowed to drink milk during his vacation. Then, after checking my ID he said, "My friend, this doesn't look very much like you. But close enough for government work."
Then the actual people on the airplane had jokes and wisecracks seemingly every time they spoke. They probably wouldn't be nearly as funny if I listed them all here, so just go and fly with them yourself if you're that curious. My favorite part was when one of the stewardesses was demonstrating how to use the emergency oxygen masks. "Place the strap around your head, breathe normally - who are we kidding? You aren't going to be breathing normally." I think they were following a script for the most part but they also improvised. For example, the guy next to me fell asleep, so she stuck a napkin to the seat back in front of him with Band-Aids. On it she had written, "You sing in your sleep! :)" When we landed in Salt Lake, she announced, "We'd like to recognize a gentleman who's celebrating his eighty-sixth birthday today, and he's a first-time flyer!" All of the passengers applauded. She continued, "On your way out, make sure to wish the captain a happy birthday."
My parents like New Age music and have a bunch of it lying around the house in an antique format known as compact discs. I have fond memories of listening to it nearly every Sunday morning while getting ready for church, but somehow this tradition faded and the selection decreased until I was only familiar with a few albums. When I went through the collection and rediscovered other albums, though, they were as familiar as if I had listened to them the previous day. There was one particular song I wanted to find, though, because I was curious whether it would still depress me almost to tears like it did when I was little. Maybe it's just because I have issues, but a few of the songs my parents played really messed me up. The other most prominent example would be the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour". I was literally scared that these freaks were coming to take me away.
Anyway, this other song, the New Age one, provided me with my earliest memories of depression. It made me think of a little boy wandering along a vast beach all by himself, staring out at a vast ocean, and (around the 2:55 mark) finally breaking down and crying out to the vast sky. And being a masochist I wanted to find this song and listen to it again. Finally, during this last trip home I narrowed it down to one album I hadn't heard yet that it could possibly be on, and sure enough, among all the other songs that were as familiar as if I had heard them the day before, there it was. I was surprised to find that it's called "Symphony of the Forest". And while it didn't have nearly as drastic an effect on me this time around, I still think "Symphony of Loneliness and Futility" would have been a more appropriate title.
Kitaro - Symphony of the Forest
At the first church activity of the new semester, several people were still filling out their pink or blue information sheets to get their records transferred into the ward. One girl near me had taken a blue sheet and written at the top of it "I am a girl". I assumed the pink sheets had simply run out, but almost immediately noticed that there were still several right next to her. So I asked, "Why are you using a blue sheet?"
She looked at me as if I was the stupidest person in the world (insert your own quip about agreeing with her here) and said, "Because colors are not gendered. That's a societal thing. I like blue better."
I was stunned at how awesome she had instantly revealed herself to be, but, trying not to gush too much and sort of being at a loss for a words, I just said "That's cool" three times. The third time was prefaced with "Nah" and was a response to her apology for being weird. Then, as I violated her privacy by looking at the confidential stuff she had already written down, I noticed another awesome thing. "Hey," I said, "you have the exact same birthday as me!"
"Six twenty-three ninety-three?"
Um, yeah, that's what it says on the paper, right? "Yeah."
"What time were you born?"
"I don't remember," I said. "I was very young."
She looked confused for a second, and then broke into a grin. "Oh, stop it," she said, and promptly turned away to talk to someone else.
Finally I'm in a couple of the English classes that I've been trying to get into for three semesters. They have only twenty spaces each. Both of them are taught by the same professor, and both of them will require writing stuff and then sharing it with everyone else so they can politely and constructively tear it apart. Thus, today we had a discussion about vulnerability. We watched this amusing TED Talk.
Brené Brown - The Power of Vulnerability
Before this video and our discussion, I hated vulnerability. Now, after realizing how essential it is to feeling normal human emotions and having normal human relationships, I still hate vulnerability. It doesn't usually work out very well for me. I am put in mind of Evita Peron's fictional incarnation's words, "Time and time again I've said that I don't care, that I'm immune to gloom, that I'm hard through and through. But every time it matters, all my words desert me, so anyone can hurt me, and they do." When I look out at my classmates I see a bunch of people who will hurt me if given half a chance. A fair analysis? I hope not. We'll see.
For some reason we talked about what it takes to have an intimate relationship with someone. (Here I felt sorry for any Mormons in the class who may have wrongly been taught to use "intimacy" as a synonym for sex.) I didn't pursue writing so I could learn about intimate relationships, but whatever. We talked about the necessity to be yourself, to communicate, and all that jazz. But the elephant in the room was that you can do that all you want but you can't guarantee the other party will reciprocate. They can act like they're being all honest and open when in fact they're lying through their teeth. I am not speaking hypothetically. And that's why I only really trust like three people.
But if to love at all is to be vulnerable, then no one is more vulnerable than God. Have you ever thought of that?
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
- Amelia Whitlock
"I don't know how well you know Christopher Randall Nicholson, but... he's trolling. You should read his blog. It's delightful."
- David Young
About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.